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Whirlpool Profit Rises, but US Sales Weaker

Whirlpool, the world's largest appliance maker, reported a 50 percent rise in third-quarter profit Tuesday as international demand and cost savings from the Maytag buyout helped offset lower U.S. sales.

The maker of Maytag, Amana and KitchenAid appliances also backed its prior full-year profit outlook, but cut its forecast for industry shipments in North America, its biggest market.

Earnings rose to $175 million, or $2.20 a share, from $117 million, or $1.47 a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected $2.13 a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Total sales were about flat at $4.84 billion, below analysts' estimates of $5.08 billion. Revenue in North America fell 8 percent to $2.9 billion, hurt by weaker demand amid the softer U.S. housing market.

Whirlpool said industrywide shipments of washers and other major appliances had fallen 5 percent in North America during the quarter, but shipment trends were likely to improve during the fourth quarter after five straight quarters of declines.

Still, Whirlpool said it expected U.S. industry shipments to show a drop of about 4 percent this year, steeper than the 2 percent to 3 percent decline it projected in July.

Operating profit in North America fell 24 percent, pressured by higher oil and metals costs and the lower sales.

Revenue rose 12 percent in Europe, 23 percent in Latin America and 18 percent in Asia.

Whirlpool, which acquired smaller rival Maytag in 2006, said it still expected full-year earnings of $8 to $8.50 a share. Analysts currently expect $8.28, according to Reuters Estimates.

Whirlpool's stock, which rose 2 percent in Monday trading to $87,99, is up 6 percent so far this year.

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